Collection F0612 - Archambeau-Thomas family collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Archambeau-Thomas family collection

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Physical description area

Physical description

0.24 m of textual records
3 scrapbooks : 20 x 37 cm and 30 x 25 cm
42 photographs : col. and b&w ; 18 x 15 cm or smaller

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gerald A. Archambeau is a Canadian citizen (b.1933) who emigrated from Jamaica to Montreal in 1947. He was the first black adolescent to join the Canadian Naval Cadets in Montreal in 1948, and the first black telegraph messenger to work for the Angelo American Telegraph Company. Archambeau worked as a passenger car attendant for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway in the 1950s. From 1967 to his retirement in 1993, Archambeau worked worked as a station attendant for Air Canada at the Malton (now Pearson International) airport. In 2004 Archambeau published his autobiography: "A Struggle To Walk With Dignity: The story of a Jamaican-born Canadian."

Archambeau's grandfather was a police inspector, naturalist, lecturer and explorer in Jamaica, Herbert T. Thomas.

His first wife was Gertrude Thomas. They had five sons and one daughter. The couple lost four of their sons during WWI. Archambeau's grandmother, Leonora Thomas, was Herbert T. Thomas' second wife. She was a seamstress and owned a local bakery. The couple had four daughters.

Archambeau's mother Phyllis A. Thomas, was a nurse. Phyllis had three sisters:Dorothy M. Thomas (also known as Dorothy Coot) was a legal secretary and the first female underwriter at New York Life Insurance Company; Beatrice V. Thomas was a cost accountant for a rum company based in Jamaica; Kathleen M. Thomas was also a legal secretary.

Additional biographical information can be found online through a Historica Canada recording of Archambeau speaking about his childhood in Jamaica. See:

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of biographical writing, genealogical documents, published and photocopied books, scrapbooks and mementos created, collected and accumulated by Gerald A. Archambeau from various sources,including genealogical information regarding his grandfather Herbert T. Thomas, a police officer in Jamaica who was also a naturalist, lecturer and explorer. Material relating to Herbert T. Thomas is photocopied and scanned pamphlets, online articles and newspaper articles of material originally published from 1881 to about 1927 and relates primarily to Thomas' campaign to eradicate the practice of obeha in Jamaica.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Gerald Archambeau in 2011 and 2013.


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  • English

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No restrictions on access.

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Associated materials

Copies of Archambeau's autobiography "A Struggle To Walk With Dignity" (Toronto : Blue Butterfly Books, 2008) and his grandfather Herbert T. Thomas's "The Story of A West Indian Policeman, or, forty-seven years in the Jamaica constabulary" (Jamaica: The Cleaner Co. Ltd.) 1927. have been added to York University's Special Collections.

Related materials


The fonds comprises the following accessions: 2011-047, 2013-016. Further accruals may be expected.

General note

[RAD 1.8B21] General note: Archambeau was assisted by genealogists Alan Grevson and Madeleine E. Mitchell in compiling genealogical information regarding the Thomas family.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2012/02/28 Anna St.Onge:. (Creation)
2012/02/28 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2012/10/02 Anna St.Onge. Adjusted finding aid link Added access point.
2012/10/02 Anna St.Onge. Correct citations for books in Spec Coll.
2013/04/02 Anna St.Onge. added information of photocopied material sent in 2012 (photocopy of material held by Columbia University Libraries) Changed the fonds name: Archambeau wants it to be identified as the Archambeau-Thomas family collection.
2013/04/18 Anna St.Onge. Switched last three accruals received in late 2012 and 2013 into one accession 2013-016. Removed 2011-047 / 003 (05) and (06) to 2013-016.
2013/04/18 Anna St.Onge. Updated scope and content note to include info re. Thomas' involvement in the campaign to eradicate practice of obeha in Jamaica.
2013/07/04 Anna St.Onge. Adjusted title to read collection (based on donor's request). Adjusted authority record for Thomas to be Thomas, Herbert Theodore, 1856-
2013/12/18 Anna St.Onge. Revised biographical sketch based on Archambeau's info re. his grandmother, mother, aunts. Added information re. genealogists Alan Grevson and Madeleine E. Mitchell.
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM.
2019/02/08 J. Grant. Post-migration metadata clean-up.

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